Season One, Episode One
I guess I’m a bit surprised that CBS took a chance on Under the Dome. Based on a Stephen King novel of over 1,000 pages, the story is about a small Maine town called Chester’s Mill being barricaded in by a mysterious, clear dome. The pilot episode does little to explain exactly what’s going on, and instead focuses in on the main characters and the town’s reaction when the dome drops down. It’s chaotic but a lot of fun to watch.
As for the characters, everyone seems to be at least a bit mysterious or suspicious of something. Starting with Barbie, who I can only assume is the main character, he’s an Army vet who isn’t from the small Maine town, but has the biggest reveal (aside from the huge dome) of the episode when you find out the body he buried in the woods is Julia’s husband. Julia is the red-haired editor of the local paper. Her first scene involves a resident alerting her of an unusual amount of propane tanks being delivered in town. Big Jim, the powerful figure in town, and Duke, police chief, have a secretive conversation about those very tanks. Then there’s Junior, a young lunatic who is also Big Jim’s son. Plus a handful of others.
While there are enough different characters to give the show some good drama, the pilot is mainly about the dome. No questions are answered, but how it’s perceived by the town and the outsiders is what’s important here. Some are looking for an off-switch, others are have seizures when near it. Big Jim seems to be thinking about a long-term plan, as if the dome isn’t just going to go away like it appeared. It made me think of The Mist because both of these situations put a limited group of residents to act and react in such extreme situations. The pilot also has some similarities to Lost, such as the many supporting characters and the sense of fear and mystery around every corner.
Can it keep its ratings while slowly uncovering mystery after mystery from week-to-week? If Under the Dome is successful, will it exceed the King novel? Under the Dome has a lot of questions but so far, it’s pretty darn entertaining.